punishment of the wicked
Anonymousasked this question on 3/1/2001:
In the biblical stories of Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah, and the Tower of Babel, God repeatedly destroys major, thriving cities. Discuss the significance of this trend, making sure to analyze the reasons why (you think) God destroys the cities and the effects of their destruction.
I have the impression that your question comes straight out of a textbook. Your manual's query tries to stimulate you so that you read the Bible's episodes in question and think about them. I hope you do so. I'm sure that you can find the answers. Anyway the situation reminds me of my youth when I had found a book even the teacher didn't know. I was brilliant for some time until I was found out. Then I went back to my own production level.
If it's a consolation to you, the question has been a preoccupation of all times. Why and how does God punish the wicked? In every case, you will find that the people involved some way or other did renege their faith of God. There is even a midrash – that’s one of the stories the rabbis tell in order to explain the Bible – informing that the Sodomites besides doing abnormal things punished their own people when they surprised them doing good to strangers or the needy.
Before going on we should consider that the ancient ones attributed everything directly to God. Nowadays we know that God hasn't the need to act in order to punish the wrongdoer. The immoral deed generally carries inside its own punishment. If you are a promiscuous sex consumer, you shouldn’t be surprised if you wake up with aids. If you smoke crack you will just burn your brain. If you lye you just distortion your relationship with the others. You got away with it? Next time you will do it with more audacity. Finally, you will be caught and then nobody will believe you any more even if you tell the truth.
The question talks about 'thriving cities'. This is a modern implication that does not correspond the ancient view. Wealth was considered in the OT as a sign of God's blessing. So where is the problem? Wealth may become an idol. Saint Paul calls avarice an idolatry.
Instead adoring God from who stems everything good these peoples made out without God. The Bible teaches that living without faith is like committing suicide, like deliberately bringing calamity upon yourself. This is quite logic. Once you abandon God, you leave behind moral laws and ethics. Why do you think that abortion is considered something quite normal instead of an assassination? Because they lost faith in God. Why do you think that in Holland people don't want hospitalization being afraid of suffering euthanasia? Because they made laws that give the doctor the decision to end the life he thinks isn't worth living. I could offer you a big list of incidental occurrences. So it's not about the question if God has a trend to punish. It's the nature of sin. Hebrew 12 talks about correction but that is an other question.
Why did I try to answer your textbook question and helped you doing your homework? Because I think you should consider your own life. Don’t you experience that when you commit sin the punishment is quite near? Therefore, if you don't change your life for the sake of God's love you should change it for fear of the consequences! Consequence of destruction is that God has to create something totally new because He respected human freedom. And human freedom without God destroys. But thank God his kingdom is near and it is easy to change life with his help.